dawn is an amazing photographer who specializes in birth, documentary family, and wedding photography. (she just happened to shoot some of our photos too). she has an outlook on life that we could all learn from.
what is the biggest challenge or opportunity you’ve faced and how did it shape who you are?
one of the biggest challenges i’ve faced is one that started at a young age and followed me throughout most of my twenties: having the confidence to follow my own inner intuition and creative voice, versus doing what others told me would be best.
when i was a junior in high school, mapping out college plans, i knew with all my heart that i wanted to pursue photography as my major and hopefully afterward, as a career. but i can still remember the day i said those words to my high school guidance counselor and he looked at me with all seriousness and told me that photography was a hobby, not a career; that i needed to choose a different college major and career path. a few other adults i talked to about this at the time agreed, and to say the least: i was crushed but hopeful it would lead me down the right path. i took all of the advice i received to heart, and soon after found myself intrigued by and then pursuing graphic design as my college education. while i wholeheartedly loved doing design work and even spent eight years working in the field, i still always had this inner voice whispering at me to pursue photography. so i continued to document the world and experiences around me in my own life. eventually, this led to being asked to photograph a wedding and then a family session and then even a commercial job for a local game company. before long, i had a steady trickle of work coming in, and loved it, even if the type of photography work didn’t always resonate with the type of photography i liked to do.
so, in 2013, i set myself a goal that i would leave the comfort of my full-time design job to pursue photography full-time if i could book twenty-three weddings that year. when I reached my goal, i fearfully and excitedly put in my notice at my full time design job and started out on this crazy adventure of being my own boss.
in those first few years, i took on any photo inquiry that came my way, eager and excited to be doing what i loved on a full-time basis: photography! but eventually i found myself questioning some of the jobs that were being asked of me. all of the reasons i had loved photography in the first place had gotten away from me with some of the jobs i booked, because i was letting my clients decide the work i took on. sure, i was still directing everything, and coming up with the creative visions, but i just wasn’t resonating with some of the work. a few years ago, i made another goal: that i would only take on photography work that resonated with me—less of the staged stuff—more of the real, honest-to-goodness, candid content with genuine emotion and authentic interactions. it was the first time in nearly a decade where i felt like i was finally standing on my own two feet, without someone else telling me what needed to be done. it’s an amazing feeling now to be still standing here—years later—even more passionate and committed to the work i do and the clients i work with because it’s work that resonates with me on every level.
with all of this said, i am forever grateful for the experiences and opportunities i faced along the road to get to where i am today. all of the knowledge i’ve gained in various areas of both design and photography have only helped to guide me on the path to finding my own true voice. the experiences helped me to find the courage to follow my own dreams and passions that i might otherwise have given up on, and for all of it, i am tremendously grateful.
what’s one word, thought, or philosophy that you live by?
not a day goes by that i don’t reflect on all the things, people, and experiences in my life that i am grateful for, and i’m always sure to show my gratitude and appreciation for even the small things. in my opinion, you can never say thank you enough—especially when it comes to showing your appreciation for the support, kind actions, and thoughtful words of others.
follow dawn on instagram and facebook: @dawnmgibson_photo
check out her website: dawnmgibsonphotography.com
photo: lindsey robinson
our journal features ladies from all walks of life who have persevered, overcome, and achieved great success. if you have a story to share, get in touch.